Instilling an Open Source Culture

Every brand has a culture. That is, a set of values which everyone sticks to and everyone promotes within a business.

Businesses must either choose a culture, or have one develop of its own accord, something which can end up going awry. To deal with this before it becomes an issue, you should consider an open source culture.

What is an open source culture?

Most open source projects start out with just a couple of people hacking away at some code to build a tool. This can then later blossom to become something much bigger, spurred on not by the tool, but by the people who created it.

Open source culture isn’t about the code you write, or the test you perform. It’s about how you comment on it, it’s about what jokes you use in the chat room. It’s about how you deal with a ‘stupid question‘.

If you run an open source project, or want to run an open source brand, you need to be sure that you set up the culture right. Harmless ‘banter’ among friends can start out as a joke, but as people come along, they will mimic that behaviour to fit in, creating a culture that can be harmful in the long run.

One great example of open source culture is from Drupal, who set up an initiative called Getting off the Island. This encouraged people to stop thinking just in terms of the technology that they already worked with and instead go out and explore other options, saying ‘We’re all trying to do sort-of the same thing, so how are you getting around this issue?’ – learning from each other instead of being secretive and closed-off.

An open source culture is about being inviting and accepting, creating a general feeling of ‘I’m okay, you’re okay.’ And that’s okay with us.



Author Gyles Seward

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